Buttigieg says White House is “still in denial about” COVID-19 pandemic as VP debate looms

The coronavirus pandemic will play a central role in Americans being able to “really see the difference” between the Biden-Harris campaign and the Trump White House, said former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as both campaigns make final preparations for the October 7 vice presidential debate.

Buttigieg, who was seen Monday in the lobby of a hotel where Senator Kamala Harris is preparing for her debate against Vice President Mike Pence, accused the White House of not wanting to “face reality” in the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Trump returned to the White House after three days at Walter Reed where he was treated for COVID-19. As virus-related fatalities in the U.S. soared above 210,000, Buttigieg said the White House “seems to still be in denial” about the pandemic. 

Kamala Harris will have to contrast that messaging by showing it knows “what it will actually take to confront this pandemic that’s now killed more than 200,000 Americans,” Buttigieg  said on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday.

While the former South Bend, Indiana mayor side-stepped a question on reports that he was acting as Pence in Harris’ debate practice, he did warn the vice president is “a very effective debater.” Vice President Pence served as Indiana governor from 2013 through President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

“I’ve seen him debating for governor and debating for vice president as well. He has an ability to deliver lines with a high degree of confidence, whether they’re true or not,” Buttigieg said. “But of course, saying something with a straight face doesn’t make it true.” 

He said it was up to Wednesday evening’s moderator, USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page, to fact-check the vice president if he wanders from the truth so Harris could “focus on getting out the message about how this country’s going to move forward.”